Children's Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of Computer


In his classsic book, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and powerful Ideas, Seymour Papert set out a vision of how computers could change school. In The Children’s Machine he now looks back over a decade during which American schools acquired more than three million computers and assesses progress and resistance to progress.

In a follow-up to Mindstorms (selling over 135,000 copies in paperback), the pioneering scientist who created the programming language Logo used...

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In his classsic book, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and powerful Ideas, Seymour Papert set out a vision of how computers could change school. In The Children’s Machine he now looks back over a decade during which American schools acquired more than three million computers and assesses progress and resistance to progress.

In a follow-up to Mindstorms (selling over 135,000 copies in paperback), the pioneering scientist who created the programming language Logo used in hundreds of schools nationwide now discusses why the computer revolution has failed to revolutionize eduction. "Bold and adventurous."--New York Times.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465010639
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/1994
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 657,663
  • Lexile: 1250L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.33 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Seymour Papert holds the Lego Chair for Learning Research at MIT. He is the author of Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 2, 2010

    A great book about computers and learning

    Seymour Papert's The Children's Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer first and foremost gave me many interesting and otherwise untouched perspectives on the subject. Throughout the book he was constantly challenging different viewpoints and tackling old ideas head-on with current issues about the computer. Having worked many years as a mathematician and a computer programmer, Papert knows this subject area, and it's definite from his writing. He uses many examples of school-age children and their dealings with computers to make one see how he's seeing things: the computer is not a bad thing in and of itself; however, it is how many schools today use them that do not make them relevant to the students' learning. The computer merely exists in the classroom and sometimes the students have "computer class", but is that really teaching them anything? That would be the fault of the School, which in this sense is the "traditional" way of schooling children. This sentence in chapter 8 really summed up the idea of this book for me: ".computers would not simply improve school learning but support different ways of thinking and learning." The computer is at our disposal, so let us learn all that we can by using it while embracing all aspects of doing so. Another very interesting part of the book was reading about learning and how there is no real word in this language for acquiring knowledge, yet we are doing it constantly.

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  • Posted May 4, 2009

    The Children's Machine

    The Children's Machine was written by Seymour Papert. Throughout the book we learn about the many different ways a child can obtain information. Papert's theory is that students today learn in a different manner than our westernized world previously viewed the processes. According to Papert, students today can learn by utilizing technology and education together. The Children's Machine uncovers the deficiencies by which most schools run that prevents students from learning as they should, in a self-directed manner where there are answers other than yes or no. He takes the initiative to point out that it could and should totally revolutionize the way that kids learn and change the way schools today operate.
    Papert encourages the use of technology in the classroom because it goes along with the children's thought processes. He quotes "Video games teach children what computers are beginning to teach adults--that some forms of learning are fast-pased, immensely compelling, and rewarding. The fact that they are enormously demanding of one's time and require new ways of thinking remains a small price to pay (and is perhaps even an advantage) to be vaulted into the future. Not surprisingly, by comparison School strikes many young people as slow, boring, and frankly out of touch." By this Papert means the students aren't able to engage into the material. In the schools we need up to date learning, that is keeping up with technology outside of the classroom making learning new, exciting, and fun.
    Papert also states that the kind of knowledge children need is the kind that will eventually help them gain more knowledge. Technology in the classroom is essential in this day and time. How many people do you know that are not familiar with a computer, a video game or some sort of electronic device that could be used as a learning tool. In order to prepare our younger generations for the real world it is absolutely necessary for them to understand and be able to use advanced technology.
    "Everything I have said in this book converges to suggest that this would produce rich intellectual environments in which not only children and teachers but also new ideas about learning would develop together. It is only in such an ecology of mutations and hybridizations of ways of learning that a truly new mathetic culture could emerge." As you see, Papert is working to convince the reader that using these technological methods in the school setting is essential. After reading this book, I felt as though Papert was in a way trying to brain wash the audience into believing that technology is the only way to get students to learn and understand the world around them. I am a firm believer in hands-on learning. I believe that one on one learning is very effective and gives the children a sense of love and care that they will need in the real world, as well as the proper education they must obtain. Technology is essential, but shouldn't be solely used in the classroom.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2008

    A reviewer

    The Children's Machine: Rethinking School by Seymour Papert was a very intriguing book. He says that we are entering an age of learning during the time that competitive ability is the ability to learn. He believes that technology could result in an education revolution by helping in how kids learn and how the school is ran. There is also several good points on how to utilize technology in the classroom. For example, most of the time a computer is used as a `substitute¿ for the teacher. One of the things he may suggest it letting the child be in control of the computer. For this he created a Logo program which lets children learn without restrictions. This is something he really encourages because with every mistake is a new discovery. It allows children to learn from their mistakes. The purpose of school he might say is to to get kids to think about it and how they can learn. He also believes that are two types of learners. The yearners are those who have the desire to change. The schoolers are those who are always busy doing what always has been done. His favorite type of learning is what he calls constructionism. Its basis is built on the assumption that students learn best when they have to hunt out the knowledge they need for themselves. To move into what he calls the age of learning, we will have to have the involvement of community, teachers, students and parents, fostering of personal teaching styles, and decentralization. He said `I am convinced that the best learning takes place when the learner takes charge¿. I think this is a very strong statement because you can teach kids all you want but they will learn and remember the most when they take charge and embed it into their mind the way they can remember it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2008

    Review of Children's Machine

    The Children¿s Machine: Rethinking School by Seymour Papert is a wonderful book that made a lot of sense to me in many ways. Its points are very concise and force a lot of realizations for a lot of people about the way schools are run and how children learn. Papert begins by giving the reader a scenario. Papert describes a scenario where a group of doctors and teachers from a hundred years ago are brought into an operating room and a classroom in our time. Papert makes the notion that the doctors would be utterly baffled by the mechanisms and gadgets that surgeons now have at their disposal and would be unable to operate using these instruments. However, the teachers would most likely immediately grow accustom to the very few modern changes that are seen in the classroom and would be able to take over the class in a very short time. Papert's point is that since we have passed through a period when so much human activity has been revolutionized, why have we not seen comparable change in the way we help our children learn? In his book, Papert describes two types of people: ¿Yearners¿ and ¿Schoolers.¿ The ¿Yearners¿ are those who have the foresight and the desire to change. The ¿Schoolers¿ are those who are just too busy doing what has always been done. Papert makes the point that the whole point of school is to get kids to think about thinking and how they can learn. He surmises that if we create an environment that focuses solely on the child and not on the subject matter then the child can become responsible for his/her own learning. By showing the kids how to think about thinking and how to learn, you set up the child to learn using their own styles and strengths and you allow the child to not only try but also fail, learn, and relearn what it is he was trying to do. Papert¿s whole point is that teachers interrupt learning by teaching. In conclusion, Papert realizes that the transition to this type of learning system that is focused on modern technology will be slow. The fact that school systems still take money given to them to purchase the latest technology is used on traditional teaching materials is slowing the effort even more. However, with the way the world is changing and the way children are learning to use computers at such a young age, the system is bound to change and hopefully with the benefits outlined in Papert¿s ¿The Children¿s Machine: Rethinking School.¿

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